Feb. 8, 2009

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) -Struggling No. 19 Notre Dame came up with big defensive plays and just enough offense down the stretch to beat 25th-ranked DePaul.

Becca Bruszewski hit a 12-foot baseline jumper with 50 seconds left and added a free throw with 3 seconds left to help lead Notre Dame to a 62-59 victory Sunday, just the third win in the last seven games for the Irish.

"I was just thrilled to get a win today over a great team," Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw said. "We haven't been playing as well as we've wanted defensively and I thought we did a great job of guarding them much better the second half."

The Irish (17-5, 6-4 Big East) went nearly six minutes without a basket before Melissa Lechlitner, who finished with 13 points, hit a 12-foot jumper to give the Irish a 54-53 lead. After Deirdre Naughton tied the game at 54 with a free throw, Natasha Williams scored inside to give DePaul (18-6, 6-4) a two-point lead.

But Lechlitner tied it and Bruszewski put the Irish ahead to stay with 50 seconds left. The Irish made four of six free throws down the stretch to hang on. Bruszewski finished with 14 points and a career-high 12 rebounds for her first career double-double.

"I was just attacking, getting boards," Bruszewski said.

Ashley Barlow matched her season-high with 19 points to lead the Irish,

Natasha Williams led DePaul with 20 points and 10 rebounds as the Blue Demons' five-game winning streak ended. China Threatt, who had 11 points, had a chance to tie the game at the buzzer but her 3-pointer bounced high off the back of the rim and fell to the floor.

"She got a great, great look," DePaul coach Doug Bruno said. "That ball missed by an inch."

The Irish easily beat DePaul 86-62 on Jan. 6, but the game Sunday didn't resemble that game at all. It was close throughout after the Irish briefly opened a 12-point lead in the first half.

Bruno said the Blue Demons knew they would play better against the Irish this time.

"After Notre Dame took us to school on Jan. 6 this team has just responded with some positive basketball since then. I'm really proud of our team bouncing back after that really tough night in Chicago," he said.

A crowd of 10,011, the ninth largest in school history, was on hand for the game that was part of the "The Pink Zone" program aimed to helping to raise awareness for breast cancer. Notre Dame wore uniforms with pink trim and the officials used pink whistles.

McGraw, whose mother Anne O'Brien is a breast cancer survivor, said seeing so many fans wearing pink at the game and seeing so many breast cancer survivors in attendance was touching.

"When I came in and saw the pink in the arena I took a deep breath and it really made me appreciate everything those women have gone through," she said. "It was kind of a great feeling to go out there and play hard and know we can honor them by doing that."